Pilot in the Spotlight: Paul Christensen
Paul Christensen was drafted with the first pick in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft by Atlanta United.
This week, The Beacon’s spotlight is shining on Paul Christensen, who has been the starting goalkeeper for the Pilot’s men’s soccer team for the past four years and is saying goodbye to UP after this semester.
Christensen’s last season in Pilot purple ended after a tough 2-3 loss to Saint Mary’s. The men’s soccer team barely missed the NCAA tournament this year, yielding its spot to teams it had beaten, like Pacific and Seattle U. Nevertheless, Christensen was consistently brilliant in goal for Portland, allowing his second lowest amount of goals this season and ending the year with a save percentage of 70.
“That’s just the way it goes, there are some bounces that if they go our way it’s a totally different season,” Christensen said about the season’s disappointing end. “We weren’t far off. The team’s gonna keep going for more.”
However, it was not just Christensen’s performance and veteran leadership that earned him this week's Pilot in the Spotlight. Christensen has been invited to next year’s MLS combine and is set to be available for selection in the
“It’ll be a good experience if I get to go and it’s something I’m looking forward to,” Christensen said on the upcoming draft.
Christensen is a native of Woodinville, Washington and grew up supporting the Seattle Sounders. The senior is actually an alumnus of the prestigious Sounders academy program and thinks it would be a dream come true if he were able to play for his hometown club.
“I think the Sounders would obviously be a great choice because that’s just the team I’ve grown up supporting,” Christensen said about the possibility of being drafted by Seattle. “Anywhere in the Pacific Northwest would be a really cool thing…even the Timbers.”
Luckily, it is completely reasonable to expect the Sounders to take Christensen in the draft. Stefan Frei, the team’s current starting keeper and Christensen’s MLS idol, is 31, and the Sounders lack depth at the goalkeeping position. Furthermore, the reigning MLS champions might want to take advantage of the league's, which Christensen qualifies for due to his time on the Sounders academy. Whether he becomes a Sounder or not, Christensen is a phenomenal talent and will be a joy to watch in between the posts of an MLS goal.
“I think the two that I like watching the most if I had to pick two would be Luis Robles. He’s a real fierce competitor, which is something I admire.” Christensen said of the New York Redbulls goalkeeper. “Stefan Frei at Seattle is someone I’ve had the opportunity to train with. The work he puts in everyday and seeing how it translates on the field is a great thing.”
Christensen will join the numerous Pilot soccer players who have gone on to represent UP at the professional level. As a goalkeeper, he joins American soccer legend Kasey Keller and 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Luis Robles in going pro. If the achievements of former Pilot goalkeepers who turned pro are any indicator of Christensen’s future in professional soccer, then it is safe to say that Christensen’s future career is something to look forward to for any fan of the world's game.